Councillors demand answers over comedy festival collapse

Susan Leslie and George Kay both expressed concerns over Kreative Destiny from the beginning.
Susan Leslie and George Kay both expressed concerns over Kreative Destiny from the beginning.

A leading councillor has demanded to know where Council money poured into Kreative Destiny has gone.

The local authority put £5000 in to help businessman Bob Carruthers set up a social enterprise to deliver Kirkcaldy Comedy Festival and help run the town’s Hogmanay celebrations.

Now George Kay wants chief executive Ronnie Hinds to launch a full investigation into the controversy after the collapse of the festival last week.

He described a report given to Kirkcaldy area committee in September on the ambitious plans as ‘’extremely confusing’’ - and he wants an apology for criticism levelled at him for not supporting the initiative.

In a prepared statement given to the Press on Tuesday, Cllr Kay said: “The September meeting of the area committee was presented with a paper which was extremely confusing in almost every aspect.

‘‘It referred to a company called Kreative Destiny and various steps which were being taken to award them several tranches of money totalling £60,000.

“It was evident that this paper was strongly supported by the area committee chairman and the area manager. It was equally evident that the majority of councillors had a great deal of misgivings on the paper and a great many questions to have answered.’’

He added: ‘‘A subsequent meeting of members also left them with more questions than answers despite the attendance of representatives from Kreative Destiny. ‘‘

Cllr Kay said it was just a few days later that problems with Kreative Destiny and the comedy festival first came to light - and he says the collapse of the big event simply backed up the concerns he had expressed.

‘‘I do think that these events vindicated completely the stance taken by the vast majority of councillors,’’ he said.

“I regret that in the course of these two meetings the chairman (Neil Crooks) berated members for being unambitious and negative. He personally took me to task for saying that I felt we were being asked to fill in a blank cheque and the details would have been filled in later.

‘‘In reality councillors were doing their jobs and questioning the use of public money. At this stage councillors should at least have an apology from the chairman and the area manager to both the committee and the people of Kirkcaldy.’’

He added: “I have asked the chief executive to carry out a full investigation into all the events which have led to this position and I understand that internal audit will be doing just that. I look forward to clarification of this confusing situation and for Kirkcaldy area to take note and go forward.”

MEANWHILE, a councillor claims she was put under pressure NOT to ask questions about Kreative Desitiny.

And Susan Leslie has vowed to dig further into the company’s claims it is set up as a social enterprise.

Her comments came in the aftermath of Keative Destiny’s failed bid to get £50,000 of public money to stage a Hogmanay event in town and the collapse of the comedy festival it was meant to deliver for the town.

Cllr Leslie said she had pressure put on her not to ask questions at last month’s area committee when Kreative Destiny applied for funding towards its Hogmanay plans in the Town Square.

She said: “I raised my concerns with the audit department last week and the chief executive has asked them to get further information to decide if other things need to be done.’’

And she added: “I still have concerns about the ongoing matters around what Bob Carruthers described as ‘the guys.’

‘‘At a members’ meeting, when he was asked how all these things, including the social enterprise company and the Hogmanay event came about, he told us it had come from ‘the guys.’

‘‘When asked who ‘the guys’ were, he said it was the officers, the area chairman and the manager of the Kirkcaldy BID.’’

Cllr Leslie said she was concerned at the lack of accountability of ‘‘a small group’’ - and vowed to pursue the matter.

She said: “I am concerned that there has been a very small group of people promoting these different projects with very little accountability back to the levvy payers in Kirkcaldy4All and elected members.

‘‘What we don’t know it what is happening around the social enterprise part, but I have every intention of asking these questions at the area committee.”

Councillor Leslie said she had started asking questions about Kreative Destiny before last month’s committee meeting.

Two days before it was held she said she was “put under pressure by both officers and elected members not to ask questions and not to name people.”

She added: “That just rang alarm bells in my head. It is not easy as an individual councillor to stand up to that and I have to thank George Kay for his support in this matter.

“I am exceptionally sad to have been proved right and will continue to ask questions about these matters.”